Hutchinson is the witness we’ve been waiting for

by Robin Abcarian

We have our Jan. 6 hero.

Her name is Cassidy Hutchinson.

She is the 25-year-old former executive assistant to President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, both of whom should now be very, very afraid.

Hutchinson is the one we’ve been waiting for, the one who saw everything, heard everything and has now spilled the tea about the White House’s prior knowledge of the violence that was unleashed on Jan. 6, and its grotesque non-response while the violence unfolded.

She testified, live and on tape, to an astonishing array of fly-on-the-wall details about the craziness and conflict that consumed the White House in the waning days of the Trump administration.

She disclosed that Trump physically attacked a Secret Service agent when he didn’t get his way on Jan. 6, that he instructed Meadows to call political dirty trickster Roger Stone and disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn at their Willard Hotel “war room” on Jan. 5, which she told Meadows was “inappropriate.”

With no apparent ax to grind, and plenty to lose, she showed up for her country Tuesday.

In the days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection, Hutchinson testified, she became frightened by what Trump and his allies were planning.

On Jan. 2, she said, she walked Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani to his car after he met with Meadows. “Cass, are you excited for the 6th?” Giuliani asked her. “It’s going to be a great day! We’re going to the Capitol!”

When she asked her boss what Giuliani meant, she testified that Meadows said, “There’s a lot going on, Cass, but I don’t know, things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6.”

That, testified Hutchinson, “was the first moment that I remember feeling scared and nervous for what could happen on Jan. 6. And I had a deeper concern about what was happening with the planning aspects of it.”

Meanwhile, her boss was so enthralled by his corrupt commander in chief that he ignored warnings from Hutchinson and White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato that the assembling Jan. 6 rally crowd was dripping with guns, knives, body armor, bear spray, even flagpoles tipped, as Ornato told Meadows, with “effing spears.”

Without looking up from his phone, testified Hutchinson, Meadows replied, “All right, anything else?”

Hutchinson said she had the sensation that “I was watching a bad car accident about to happen where you can’t stop it but you want to be able to do something. I remember thinking in that moment, ‘Mark needs to snap out of this.’”

(Mark, by the way, still hasn’t.)

Backstage at the infamous “Stop the Steal” rally where Trump would urge supporters to march to the Capitol, and vow to join them, Hutchinson said, Trump was furious because metal detectors erected by the Secret Service were keeping many rallygoers away. They apparently did not want to relinquish their weapons, but that meant the crowd inside the perimeter looked less robust.

“I don’t effing care that they have weapons,” Trump said just before he took the stage, recalled Hutchinson. “They aren’t here to hurt me.”

No indeed. They were there — some of them anyway — to hang Vice President Mike Pence, who refused Trump’s corrupt demands that he not certify the results of the electoral college.

Hutchinson, in almost two hours of quiet but explosive testimony Tuesday at the latest, hastily called Jan. 6 committee hearing, was present when White House counsel Pat Cipollone pleaded with Meadows to make Trump intervene as the rioters fought with officers and breached the Capitol.

“I remember Pat saying something to the effect of, ‘Mark, we need to do something more,’ ” said Hutchinson. “ ‘They are literally calling for the effing vice president to be hung.’ ”

Meadows, she said, reminded Cipollone of Trump’s response: “You heard it Pat, he thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they are doing anything wrong.”

When his Secret Service detail refused to drive Trump to the Capitol after the rally to join the insurrection, the president became unhinged, Hutchinson testified. “’I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now,’ ” Hutchinson was told the president said.

He tried to grab the steering wheel of his limo, and when the head of his Secret Service detail, Bobby Engel, removed his hand, he went for Engel’s throat. Engel did not refute the story when it was recounted to Hutchinson later by Ornato (in Engel’s presence). In fact, Hutchinson said she saw a shaken Engel put his hands to his clavicle to demonstrate what Trump had done.

Hutchinson was also in the White House when Trump threw his lunch across the room after learning his then-Attorney General Bill Barr had told an Associated Press reporter that Trump had lost the election.

“I remember hearing noise,” she testified. When she walked to the dining room, she saw the valet cleaning up. “I first noticed there was ketchup dripping down the wall and there was a shattered porcelain plate on the floor,” she said. “The valet articulated the president was extremely angry at the attorney general’s AP interview and had thrown his lunch against the wall. I grabbed a towel and started wiping the ketchup off the wall to help the valet out.”

That wasn’t the only time she’d been aware of Trump chucking his lunch. “There were several times that I was aware of him either throwing dishes or flipping the tablecloth to let all the contents of the table go onto the floor, likely break or go everywhere.”

For other people to clean up, of course.

In 2018, when she was a senior at Christopher Newport University in Virginia, Hutchinson told her college newspaper how thrilled she was to have been selected as a White House intern.

“I have set a personal goal to pursue a path of civic significance,” she said.

Congratulations, Ms. Hutchinson. Few people are lucky enough to achieve their goals so young.

Robin Abcarian is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.